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PostPosted: January 7th, 2016, 12:01 pm 
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The following is a report on my solo trip in the NWT this past summer. The plan was to explore what looked like, on the maps, some attractive esker country lying between the Taltson and Thoa Rivers, southeast of Nonacho Lake.

To do this, I paddled three small, nameless tributaries of the Taltson. The first , rising a little northeast of Alcantara Lake, flowed north and east, through Cronyn and Burpee lakes, to join the Taltson at the east end of McArthur Lake. After a short stretch downstream on the Taltson, I turned up another tributary and went via Miller lake to the large Manchester Lake. From Manchester's southwest tip, I pond-hopped south to Doran Lake, and followed its drainage - another tributary of the Taltson - downstream to Halliday Lake. Access to the start, and egress from Halliday, were by air charter from Ft. Smith, using NWAL and their Cessna 185.

As the report is fairly photo intensive, I have broken it into two parts.

The route:

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The start, a small beach in a nameless lake:

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In headwaters, it's sometimes difficult to get your toes wet:

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Open, lichen carpeted campsites were the rule on this route:

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This stream gained volume only slowly. Fortunately, almost all the rapids could be waded, lined or dragged. The few necessary portages were through rather tangled terrain.

Stream, growing slowly:

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Portage:

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This esker fragment provided me with a comfortable, relaxing campsite. A previous resident had not been so fortunate.

Esker:

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Remains of former resident:

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Slowly, the stream gained volume:

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Another nice esker campsite, this one with an old, overgrown fireplace. A friend who had paddled this stretch in the late 1970s/early 80s, before it was swept by forest fires, identified this as one of his camps. It was the only sign of human travel I saw along this stream.

Campsite:

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Old fireplace:

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Stream, still growing:
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This esker, above Burpee Lake, was fairly typical. Eskers in the area tended to be steep-sided, forested, beachless, and frankly rather disappointing compared to what I had imagined from the maps:

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This first tributary, at its biggest, just before flowing into the Taltson at McArthur Lake:

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My short sojourn down the Taltson went well. McArthur Lake was calm, I had the trip's best campsite at its exit - acres of bench behind a perfect beach, and the next day, despite very low water, I found a nice, runnable rapid.

McArthur Lake:

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Campsite:

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Rapid:

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A couple of kilometers below that rapid, I left the Taltson and turned southwest, heading upstream on my second tributary towards Manchester Lake. I pulled up a steep boulder rapid and paddled up Miller Lake. Although the map suggested that the whole west shore of the lake was an esker, there was very little sand visible anywhere. A haze of smoke from distant fires further reduced the scenery score.

Boulder chute:

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Camp in Miller Lake:

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From Miller Lake upstream to Manchester was a long day: 14 kilometers, 13 hours, 7 portages, 2 thunderstorms, 1 unplanned dip in the creek, and lots of wading and hauling.

Good going:

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Not so good going:

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Portage conditions were rather tangled:

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I was glad to finally drop the canoe in the open water of Manchester Lake, and even happier when this attractive campsite-to-be showed up a couple of kilometers later:

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Manchester offered almost 30 kilometers of paddling before I started my pond-hopping route to Doran Lake.

Link to Part 2:

http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 24&t=44617


Last edited by jmc on January 9th, 2016, 12:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: January 7th, 2016, 2:01 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
Posts: 1954
Location: Manitoba
You continue to enrich our knowledge of the eastern slope of GSL.

"looked like on the map", yes I'm with you on that concept.

In general attractive esker country is wonderful to view from a canoe although it's not always ideal or open enough for beach camping or up top hiking. I do like the openness it affords, the lichen, the semi-open views.

Great Lake names, Cronyn and Burpee

Looks like a long pond hop to Doran L

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PostPosted: January 8th, 2016, 7:32 am 
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Joined: August 19th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
Beautiful landscape JMC! I can just feel that "not so good going" lining and wading those small rapids with the shrub-choked sides and slippery boulders. Looking forward to part 2....

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PostPosted: January 8th, 2016, 5:09 pm 
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Joined: December 20th, 2003, 9:27 am
Posts: 970
As always, nice write-up and beautiful pictures. It does make a person want to go and explore that country. Thanks, jmc.


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PostPosted: January 8th, 2016, 10:19 pm 
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Joined: March 23rd, 2006, 11:21 pm
Posts: 1106
Location: Burns Lake, BC
Awesome! :clap:

Thanks for the tour.


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